It seems like October is the month for street art in New York, and today Swoon unveiled her new mural on the Bowery Wall on Houston Street. Yet, instead of "mischief-making," as Swoon describes Banksy's activity for his New York residency, her work "has its roots more deeply in the long history of mural making," she tells Gothamist. This is because, unlike Banksy's nighttime stunts, Swoon's work is the result of a commissioned project in memory of Hurricane Sandy.
Swoon’s project is part of a series called "Recovery Diaspora," an initiative by the community arts organization Groundswell to put up murals in areas of the city that were hit hard by the hurricane. The Bowery mural is the fifth creation in the "Recovery Diaspora" series. Other works have gone up in Red Hook, Coney Island, Far Rockaway, and Staten Island.
In order to complete the piece, Swoon joined forces with teens from affected communities. In the center of the mural appears the Greek goddess Thalassa, a familiar image in Swoon's work. Surrounding the wheat-paste queen's signature character are the teens' pieces, which are inspired by stories from different people across the city.
Swoon talked to Gothamist about her project: "There's something so direct about the impact of creativity that whether your participating in it and you're feeling yourself change your environment or if you're just seeing a change happen... The fact that you're able to see positive change happen directly contributes to the sense of possibility that people have in difficult circumstances. Everybody loves the word empowerment, so much so that we almost forget what it means. I was thinking how important it has been for me in my life when I've been able to do something that showed me that I could make an immediate effect on my environment. It alleviates a sense of helplessness in a very real way."